I spotted him out of the corner of my eye. I always do. As I neared him my heart started racing. Even from a distance, I could see that he was wearing a nice hoodie, jeans and a pair of boots. He was just standing there motionless but I could tell he was holding something. I thought to myself, “Please don’t be holding a sign.” As if it made a difference or helped me focus, I quickly turned the radio down. Maybe I was just embarrassed that John Mayer was playing on the radio and I didn’t want him to hear it. I quickly changed lanes and slowed down. As my car pulled to a stop I could see that he was clean shaven and wearing a nervous smile.
I’ve been this way as far back as I can remember. Sometimes I feel like I carry the weight of the world on my shoulders. I remember sitting in the back seat of my parent’s car as a kid with my head against the glass. I would see a mom walking down the sidewalk holding bags of groceries while trying to keep two young children from running into the street. I knew it was several blocks before there were any homes or apartments. Without even thinking my brain would start praying for her. And it was always something silly. I never asked God to give her a car (or even a stroller), I always asked for things like “Dear God, please make those bags feel as light as feathers until she gets home.” I guess only something a kid would think about. I still remember a lot of those faces. And I’ve never stopped doing that. Sometimes I think the prayers are just as silly, “Lord, please give her the endurance of a 16year old high school varsity cross-country star” when I see a woman around my age and size jogging down the sidewalk. I guess no prayer is silly, because I surely hope someone would say that prayer for me when I’m making a sad attempt at jogging.
My stranger of the week is the clean shaven, well dress man holding an “out of work” sign. As my car pulled to a stop he didn’t move one bit. I don’t think he knew I was there for him, or maybe he was too embarrassed to look. I fumbled through my purse to find some cash and a million thoughts raced through my head. I thought about his wife and kids back home. I thought about where she told the kids their dad went. Work? A friends? I thought about her rummaging through the pantry trying to find something to form a meal for them. Would she go without eating so they could eat? Would he? When I finally found the money, I pulled out a few crumbled up dollar bills and a five. I sighed. Those were set aside for something cheap and white that I could have over dinner while I pondered life. I quickly grabbed them and leaned over to roll down my passenger window. He finally looked over towards me with a completely confused look on his face, but still never at me. He never came around to my side, just kept staring. When I got the window halfway down he finally looked at me. I apologized for taking so long, that I didn’t have automatic windows. He laughed and told me he didn’t think they made those any more (this is a fairly new car I was driving). I laughed, too, a little embarrassed. He said he felt horrible for making me work so hard. I handed him the crumbled up money.
He thanked me and said, “God bless you.” I hope to think he meant with automatic windows.